Monday, April 8, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

"We have another Reader Request, Ruth!" I told him as he came in.
"Excellent! What are we making today?" he asked, flying over to sit on my shoulder.
"+Paul Chang would like us to make some chocolate-chip cookies."
"Ah, a classic recipe." Ruth nodded. "I had been thinking we should do those at some point. Though I wonder if the recipe was created in the same manner in your world. In ours, it was the result of a Fae prank."
"Probably not quite," I explained. "Though there are some competing accounts of how the recipe came about. All the stories I've heard agree that they were invented by Ruth Wakefield, who owned the Toll House Inn of Whitman, Massachusetts. The disagreement in the stories is over how precisely the chocolate ended up in the cookies. One account has chocolate bars falling off the shelf to land in the dough and getting chopped up by the electric mixer. I'm rather disinclined to believe that one for two reasons: one, the chocolate bars would have been wrapped in paper, and two, this was the 1930s and I doubt they really had electric mixers in that time period."
"Electric mixer?" Ruth asked, slightly confused.
"Something like my stand mixer," I explained and he nodded in understanding. "Another story speculates that the recipe wasn't exactly an accident--that she was trying to come up with new recipes. The most common story, and the 'official' one as told by Nestle, is that she was trying to make a type of cookie that was chocolate all through, but ran out of the chocolate she normally used, and possibly also out of time to melt the chocolate, so she chopped up bars of Nestle chocolate and dumped them into the mix, expecting the chocolate to melt."
"Except it doesn't quite work that way," Ruth continued the tale for me. "Chunks of chocolate will generally hold together unless carefully melted, and they certainly won't distribute chocolate evenly throughout the dough."
"Exactly. However they came to be made, the cookies were a hit and have become a classic."
"Let's make some!"
This recipe is the one my family used when I was growing up. It's slightly changed from the recipe in the Betty Crocker 'Cookie Book', as we don't add any nuts.

Here we have the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies! Brown sugar is being ignored while Ruth stands on the white sugar and leans in to look at the flour. Red has brought the vanilla, and Black has corralled the egg next to the baking soda. Hi-chan has brought the shortening and dropped it on the bag of chocolate chips.

We need a cookie sheet and wire cooling racks, of course. Hi-chan has brought the measuring cups, while Black has spoons for shaping the cookies. Red has the measuring spoon, of course, and Ruth has brought two bowls and mixing spoons.

Black sets the oven to 375°F (190°C). It should have plenty of time to warm up while we mix up our dough.

We need 2/3cup (410g) shortening. Cutting it on a marking is quite easy. Hi-chan and Red hold the stick of shortening in place while Ruth makes the cut and Black watches to make sure he's cutting it in the right place. If your shortening comes in a tub, try filling a liquid measuring cup with 1/3 cup water and then adding the shortening until the water hits the 1cup mark. Don't forget to drain off the water before you add it, though!
Pardon the odd angle of this photo, Neko-kun was behind the camera and is considerably taller than me, so he got something of a bird's-eye view.

Hi-chan helps dump the shortening into the bowl.

Next we add sugars. Black dumps 1/2 cup (96g) white granulated sugar into the bowl.

This is followed up immediately by 1/2 cup (100g) packed brown sugar. ('Packed' means that you squish it into the measuring cup. It'll come out as a solid clump like you see in the picture.)

My turn now, as the next ingredient in is 1 egg.

Now Red gets a turn, adding in 1 teaspoon (5mL) vanilla.

Mix it all up now!
"Hi-chan, you're going to get bopped in the nose," Red warns.
"I like the view from the top of the bowl, though," Hi-chan mumbles, pouting. She gets down after Ruth and I both shoot her a look, though. "Fine."

It's starting to look like cookie dough already! This won't hold together if we bake it, though.

Hi-chan takes charge of adding 1 1/2 cups (150g) of flour, which pulls her out of her pouting.

I glance at the recipe to see what goes in next. "Ack, we forgot the salt!"
"I'll get it," Ruth volunteers. A moment or so later, he's back with the salt I use for baking. "Whoo, that's a bit heavy to carry."
"It's at least as big as you are, Ruth," Black remarks. "Not like at home."
"Thank you, Ruth," I tell him, taking the salt to measure it out. "Ready, Red?"
"Yup! Measuring-spoon time!" Red chirps as he comes over to carefully take the 1/2 teaspoon of salt from me and adds it to the bowl.

I refill the same 1/2 teaspoon measure with baking soda, and Red happily adds it to the bowl. That's all the dry ingredients!

Ruth stirs the dry ingredients together while everyone watches. Hi-chan has decided that the bag of chocolate chips makes a nice, if rather lumpy, cushion.

Now we add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture we made before. I hold the bowl for Ruth as he carefully scrapes it out, making sure to get all of it.

Everyone watches as Ruth stirs the dry mix in. Now we have cookie dough! It clumps up pretty nicely on the spoon. One more thing to add before we're ready for the oven.

Chocolate chips! Can't have chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips!
"Woah," Red remarks. "Those are massive chocolate chips."
"They are a bit bigger than I was expecting," I admit. "I'm sure they'll work though. Oops, Hi-chan, we don't need the whole bag!"
"What?" Hi-chan glances up at me, looking a little confused. "But the recipe calls for one package of chocolate chips."
"Does it want a different size package, Miaka?" Black asks.
"Yes. The recipe is expecting a 6-ounce bag of semi-sweet chips," I explain. (170g) "That bag is 10 ounces of darker chocolate, and those chips are about twice the size I expected. Personally, I'd like a bit of cookie with my chocolate chips."
"Ah, I see." Hi-chan stops pouring. "Is that good?"
"That should be plenty," Ruth assures her. "I'm sure they'll come out delicious."

"Um, Hi-chan," Ruth sounds a little bit annoyed. "I can't stir while you're standing in the bowl."
"Just trying to make sure we have enough chips," Hi-chan insists.
"There's plenty, Hi-chan," I assure her. "You don't want to be mixed into the cookies, do you?"
Hi-chan makes a reluctant grumbling sound, but she gets out of the bowl.

With Hi-chan finally out of the way, Ruth mixes the chocolate chips into the cookie dough. There's plenty of chocolate. Now we're ready to shape the cookies!

Of course, first we need a place to put the cookies. Everyone pitches in to get some parchment paper on the baking sheet.

One dozen cookies fit on this sheet. The spoons weren't cooperating with me, so these are hand-shaped; rolled into balls and lightly flattened into position. Make sure to leave 1-2 inches (3-5cm) of space between the cookies, as these will expand when baked. If you put them too close together, the cookies will blend into one another. That can be fun if you're planning on it, though.

Ruth puts the first tray of cookies into the oven. They look really tasty already!

Black sets the timer for 8 minutes as Ruth shuts the oven door. The cookies should be a delicate golden-brown when they're done. If 8 minutes isn't enough, put them back in for 2 more minutes and check again.

The cookies are just starting to brown around the very edges, with a lovely gold-brown starting on top. Ruth pulls the finished tray out so we can put the second sheet in.

The first batch is on the cooling racks! Be very careful picking these up, as the chocolate chips do melt a bit and they're quite hot. Everyone is eager to dig in! Let's wait for them to cool a bit, and for the next batch to come out, though!

The second batch just came out and got added to the racks... and Black got tired of waiting.
"Mmm, chocolate," she murmurs, sticking her face into one of the large partly-melted chips.
"You're going to get it all over your face," Ruth warns.
Somehow, I don't think Black cares...


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